Secret Wars 2015: The view so far
(all images from Marvel.Com)
Omi's Note: Usually I don't post spoiler alerts. If you read about comic books on line, there are spoilers galore. Quite honesty, I come to expect spoilers. However, I do feel that in this case I should warn the reader. I will give many spoilers but if you haven't be reading Marvel Comics in say, the last 30 years, you won't get half this stuff anyway.
I would be the first to admit that with the Incursion Events in Marvel under Jonathan Hickman, I was hoping that the heroes of Earth 616, in particular the Illuminati, would figure it out and save the universe. I really did. Even when every Avenger title demonstrated that nothing they could do or anyone in another reality could fix it. Most of the solutions were temporary and involved destroying an entire universe. So not only were those solutions difficult, they were ethically immoral. When the rumor mill began to spin the story of the destruction of the Marvel multiverses, I was really mad about this. I could understand if Marvel got rid of a few of these multiverses. Sometimes, writing stories that include characters from these alternate universes can be confusing.
I believed that this new Secret Wars storyline would be the dumbest thing ever. I have never been wrong (and I have been eating crow with every release of the series). I just put down issue # 4 as of July 30th. I have to mention that the stories based on this new Secret Wars “crossover” are very good. I mean some are awesome. Half way in, I will say Marvel has hit it out the park.
I enjoy the fact that the Marvel editorial team picked up on Dr. Doom's long term goals from the original Secret Wars. If you recall, at that point Dr. Doom was able to steal away the Beyonder's power. Since that time, Doom continued to believe that only he could retain that much power and rule the universe. While he continued to be a nuisance to the Marvel universe, all of his schemes were not the endgame. We finally see Dr. Doom see an opportunity to find that endgame and sit himself on the throne of the known universe.
Despite it's complexity, Battleworld is amazing. Again, the Marvel creative team took it's cues from the original story line where the Beyonder took pieces of different universes and put them all on one planet. It's understandable why Dr. Doom did it this way. Every piece of Battleworld with the exception of a handful, are ruled by Barons put in place by Dr. Doom. It seems like Dr. Doom thought this was a good idea to create Battleworld in this order to keep the population in check. All of the barons seem to have rebellions in all of their fiefdoms and are too busy fighting them off to unite against Dr. Doom. Some of the Barons include Apocalypse, Maestro, Mr. Sinister, and Hyperion to name a few. These barons are powerful enough in their own right but together could probably stand a chance to defeat Doom if they united but they remain too busy dealing with their own squabbles. Hickman has even figured out how to put in the Marvel Zombies universe into the story without it being corny. It's a place where Doom banishes all of the rebels throughout Battleworld.
The Thor Corps is really what keeps me ready to read each chapter. Here we have a corps of police enforcers who unquestionably follow Doom and wield hammers that are similar to that of the original Thor from Earth 616. All of the Thors come from different parts of Battleworld. Doom did this so that he didn't have to do any of the work himself. He can just send a squad of Thors to do it for him.
I never been a huge fan of Dr. Strange. All that magic stuff doesn't do it for me. However in this instance, Hickman writes him well. Dr. Strange is the only other person besides Doom who remembers how the universe was before the Incursions. Everyone else believes that Battleworld is something that has always existed. We learn in issue 3 that Dr. Strange had the opportunity to received the power of the Beyonders but refused and accepted the idea that Doom could wield that power better than he could. This part of the story is very, very interesting.
Esad Ribic's breakdowns have always been fascinating. I think this story really allows him to push the boundaries of his creativity. Even if the writing was boring, I would still collect the issues because of his pencils.
While Battleworld is like a buffet, there is just too much stuff out there. While some of the heroes we know and love from the Marvel multiverse are rehashed and remixed in clever ways and there is something for everybody, it is just too much to digest. Pretty much in a span of a few weeks, Marvel has launched several new titles. With some good there is bound to be some bad. Planet Hulk is not actually Planet Hulk. Star Lord and Kitty Pride is over the top. Age of Ultron vs. Marvel Zombies is lackluster. I can go on and on.
Many of the stories are great, but we know in the end, Marvel is not going to continue them. There is a Thors title with the Thor Corps. We all know that's not going to last. Civil War and Old Man Logan? Outta here. So why tease us like this, Marvel? I mean we know why, but we want to hear you guys and gals say it.
Most, if not all, of the crossover titles have no bearing on the actual storyline. Sure The Thors series gives the reader insight on how the Thor Corps functions and demonstrates how the idea that the Battleworld has always been there, none of what the characters a reader might end up enjoying will affect the overall series. This has been a problem with previous crossovers. In a way, if you want to save money this works but if the reader becomes invested in characters that will be discarded anyway, what is the use?
Some of the stories are rehashed but are not like their namesakes. The best example is Planet Hulk. Another on is the Infinity Gauntlet. While I enjoy the story of the Infinity Gauntlet, I did expect a series that dealt with several heroes and villains like the original story. This might be difficult to do, but if Thanos is central to the Secret Wars storyline, things might get a bit confusing.
Overall, I think the series is worth it. Purchasing the crossover titles is not necessary. I am sure that most of the stories will be memorable and will allow other artists and writers to get a little shine. I do look forward to the conclusion of the story since Hickman continues to ask more questions as it progresses.